#RoyalIndianExperience @ Shakahari, JW Marriott, Pune

Ever wondered how a royal dining would have been and what royals used to eat? I always did and it took me a trip to JW Marriott, Pune to understand that royal dining is less about royal food and more about a royal experience. As far as food it concerned, it is the authenticity that makes it royal.

A royal dining experience with authentic food is what makes Shakahari, a pure vegetarian restaurant at JW Marriott, Pune, distinct from others. Formerly known for its delicious Pan Asian veg. cuisine, Shakahari now showcases an entirely new theme of #RoyalIndianExperience, presenting a lavish menu based on authentic Indian cuisines inspired from regions of India with the royal monarchy.

Our trip to Pune started with light showers in Mumbai. While the atmosphere in Mumbai started becoming cooler, we received a warm welcome upon reaching JW Marriott, Pune. We were greeted with Kokum Sherbet to cool off after a tiring journey.

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After a quick introduction session with some of the key staff, we were ushered to the lunch table. The table was so meticulously arranged, we were reluctant to touch anything and make it unordered. Everything from the silverware, thali and cutlery, chutney and pickle container to the serviette and the ring had a royal touch.

Shakahari (PC: JW Marriott)
Shakahari (PC: JW Marriott)

We got started with a pour of Fratelli wines, a basket of papad/papdi, freshly cut salad, pickles and varieties of chutney like mint, peanut and plum which perfectly complemented the food.

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In starters, we had Dahi Wada, Palak Patta Chaat, Rajma Lasooni Salad, Palak Chawli Tikki, Beetroot Tikki, Besan Chilli and Amritsari Paneer. It will be almost impossible to describe the burst of flavors the dishes had so I will rather stick to what I liked the most. From starters, I liked Palak Patta Chaat and Rajma Lasooni Salad the most. The Palak Patta Chaat gave a typical crunchy chaat like experience and the Rajma Lasooni Salad had a hint of burnt garlic flavor in it which won many hearts.

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At Shakahari, the menu is continuously evolving and the restaurant follows the concept of dual cuisines. On the day we visited, the menu comprised Rajasthani and North Indian cuisines.

The Rajasthani main course included:

Ker Sanger ke Kofta
Rajasthani Ker, bamnera beans dumplings cooked in fresh tomato gravy.

Jodhpuri Gatta Curry
Steamed gram flour dumpling, cooked in spicy tangy hung yogurt gravy.

Subz Panchmel
Mélange of selected vegetables tossed in dry spices flavored with asafoetida.

Dal Bati Churma
Rajasthan special-lentil preparation and baked wheat flour dough served with ghee and jaggery.

Gatta ka Pulao
Spiced Gram flour dumpling cooked on dum with basmati rice.

Assorted Breads
Multigrain Phulka, Palak Poori, Ajwaini Poori.

I was trying Ker Sanger ke Kofta and Jodhpuri Gatta Curry for the first time and liked them both but it was Dal Bati Churma that I liked the most. perhaps one of the best I have had outside Rajasthan.

The North Indian main course included:

Dum Paneer Kasoori
Homemade cottage cheese simmered in rich tomato gravy, delicately flavored with fenugreek seeds.

Subz Makhmali Kofta
Vegetable kofta filled with dried plums, almonds simmered in a cardamom cashew gravy.

Pindi Chooley
Slow cooked chickpea preparation flavored with whole Indian spices tempered with dried pomegranate seeds, smoked with desi ghee.

Dal Shakahari
Overnight soaked black lentil, rajma, tempered with cumin, fresh garlic finished with white butter.

Gucchi Pulao
Long grain rice muddled with Himalayan morels flavored with whole spices.

Breads
Stuffed kulcha, Roti, Naan, Laccha Paratha.

Here, the spicy Pindi Chholey and Dal Shakahari along with Laccha Paratha is something I would recommend as ‘not-to-be-missed’.

No royal Indian meal is complete without desserts and Shakahari takes this to the next level. Shakahari provides a glimpse of what the Indian royal families would traditionally indulge in by having a ‘Mishtaan Bhandar’, a room full of sweets and desserts instead of a standard, run-of-a-mill dessert counter. Shakahari walks the talk by offering traditional Indian sweets instead of desserts and verities of Rajashthani Kulfi with a host of toppings instead of ice-creams.

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The dessert spread included Mango Rabadi, Malai Kulfi, Kesar Pista Kulfi, Moong Dal Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Lychee Gulla, Kaju Pista Roll, Moti Chor Ladoo, Kadambari, Badambhog and Ghewar.

Maharaj Jai Kishen
Maharaj Jai Kishen (PC: JW Marriott)

We also got an opportunity to interact with Maharaj Jai Kishen who carries over 4 decades of experience in the kitchen and is the energy behind crafting the new royal avatar of Shakahari.

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Chef’s Table in a private area

 

While we traveled from just Mumbai to Pune, Shakahari indeed embarked us on a much longer royal culinary journey by the overwhelming hospitality and authentic Indian cuisines inspired from princely provinces.

Shakahari - JW Marriott Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

P.S. We were invited by JW Marriott, Pune to for #RoyalIndianExperience @ Shakahari.


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Be on a gastronomical world tour @ Asanjo, Aundh, Pune

Here comes yet another global cuisine restaurant set-up by Chef and Consultant K. M. Saif.

The place is quite small compared to usual restaurants and has 2 floors for dining. The interior is minimalistic but vibrant and the well-lit ambiance makes this place elegant.

We started with mocktails and tried Dusky Damsel, Sweet, sour and spicy punch, Cucumber margarita, Kiwi margarita, Blushing caipiroska and Ethiopian spiced tea.

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Dusky Damsel was a concoction of black current crush, grape juice and black salt. Salty and a little sour.

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Sweet, sour and spicy punch was liked by all of us. This mix of pineapple, green chili and jalapeno gave a great spicy punch.

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Cucumber margarita was muddled cucumber drink. Try only if you like cucumber and feeling adventurous.

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Kiwi Margarita was made with kiwi crush blended with ice and was garnished with fresh kiwi. This was perfectly sweet and refreshing.

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Blushing caipiroska is ice crushed mint and cranberry juice mixed drink will freeze you over. You can never go wrong with this.

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The Ethiopian spiced tea was a hot concoction of spices like clove, cinnamon, honey boiled in tea. A perfect drink to clear to the throat or to induce internal heat on a winter morning.

The food menu brings great dishes from around the world. You get the best of uncommon varieties of different cuisines like Indian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, South American, Greek, Balkan and Spanish cuisines etc.

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Sambal Baby Potatoes:

Baby potatoes tossed in olive oil with onion, garlic, bell peppers in spicy sambal sauce.

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Papas ala Saif:

This is never to be missed. Named after the chef himself, this was a dish with fried potato discs, topped with yellow pepper cheese sauce and black olives. The eggetarian variant has boiled eggs on top of the fried potato discs.

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Greek veg souvlaki:
This kabab dish had soft cottage cheese and assorted vegetables accompanied by greek salad. The feta cheese and olive complemented the grilled paneer very well.

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Nachos with cheese balls:

These spinach-flavored tortillas, fully loaded with cheese sauce, beans, pico de gallo, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Will be a delight for cheese lovers.

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Gallo Pinto:

From the main course, we tried a Costa Rican dish having beans and rice served with grilled cottage cheese steak, red pepper sauce, pineapple salsa and dill yogurt. This is a meal in itself.

To end the meal, we were presented a deadly duo, of highly decorated and calorie laden Chocochip cookie shake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Milkshake.

Chocochip cookie shake was chocolate milkshake served with ice-cream sandwiched between donuts in a glass rimmed with peanut butter and chocochip cookies.

The Peanut Butter Pretzel Milkshake shake was a blend of vanilla ice-cream, peanut butter, chocolate sauce, topped with whipped cream and garnished with a piece of a Pretzel which gave a crunchy and salty twist to the shake.

Service: N/A as this was an invite.

VFM: N/A as this was an invite.

While we visited just one place, we surely had a gastronomical world tour.


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